Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I Scanned: the Hot Topics of the 1880s

Today was scanning day. It was an 80-minute drive through a thunderstorm to get to the client site. I had a headache when I got there. I wasn't very excited to get started.

But start I did and pretty soon I was back to digitizing the history of someone else's ancestors.

What was in the file drawers today? Well, I scanned a bunch of letters (1884-1889) addressed to a guy named George. Apparently George had a couple of good friends and they wrote to him often.

The hot topic in 1888 was politics and the upcoming presidential election. One of the letter writers was very enthusiastic about a candidate named Benjamin Harrison.

George and his friend also liked to debate and exchange dialogue about phohibitionism. One person was for and another against. It was interesting to read their views, knowing now what the future held on the subject.

The two people that wrote to George during these years occasionally made note of their height and weight. I thought it was odd for grown men to discuss such a subject. Then I realized that these letters were not for George the successful businessman, but for his son, George Jr. a student.

One of George's friends was 5'9" and the other claimed to be near 7 feet tall. Was it the truth or just a *tall* tale?

What else did they write about in the 1880's? The weather. Especially when it was hot. There were also a couple mentions of hotel fires, and one couple that separated due to the husband's wandering eye (among other things).

All of the letters were written on lined paper, usually about 6 inches wide and 8 inches high. All of the envelopes were about 4.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches high. Much smaller than the letters we receive today.

I really enjoyed today's scanning batch. It was a like a *real* history lesson from the people who lived it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm feeling envious of you and your client - the letters sound fascinating :-)